The night we spent anchored in the bay at Grytviken, Europa had a party. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has an important research base at King Edward Point (about a kilometer away around the bay, rather less than that in a zodiac), and some of the scientists and engineers came along. So did some of the heritage team. I said at the time that we were all excited to see new faces. It was the end of the season for them, so I think they found it pretty exciting too.
There were flags and coloured lanterns on deck which I failed to photograph as anything but an amorphous darkness. It was an unusual amount of light to show in South Georgia and seemed very bright to us at the time, but my pictures show it was still pretty dark out there. The coals of the barbecue were as bright as anything out there, reflecting the shaded blue of the fairy lights. This is definitely the barbie: we didn’t do any walking on fire on this trip.
It was great to talk to some of the new people. I learnt about counting the penguins and fur seals. It’s an important part of managing the krill fishery, because they measure its health by looking at the animals which rely on the tiny crustaceans. The young scientist I talked to does the walk to Maiviken regularly to count the colonies along the cliffs – whatever the weather. He confirmed that we had been superbly lucky to see so much sunshine.
Below decks was fun too. In the deckhouse, Cabin 9 dressed up. Unusually for me, I drank beer, in this case the irresistibly named Brazilian lager.
I remember a long and fascinating conversation with the man who ran the buildings conservation team. All those wrecked whaling stations and the older huts are subject to ongoing work, both for their heritage value and to try and keep them safe-ish. He talked about the challenges of many of the buildings which the winds and snow tear at every year, pulling off the roofs and asbestos linings and rocking them right to their foundations. He came from the Falkland Islands and had never really been happy that after five generations there, he was born in England, during the evacuation for the war in 1982.
I have a less clear memory of a long story about rum. My notes record it was funny but I neglected to write it down. It was an excellent evening.